Category Archives: Advertising Week

You Are The Sum of Your Experiences – As Posted on Advertising Week

As posted on Advertising Week:

It’s been a while since my last post and a helluva lot has happened. In the last quarter, I quit my ad agency job, packed up my San Diego apartment, moved to San Francisco sans job, attempted to find myself, jumped up in the air, hung out there for a while, and have just recently landed on the ground via a pretty sweet cloud ride. This post is not about the tangibles of what I did, how I landed a job, or any of that. It’s about openness, creativity, looking up, and starting to see your life in a fundamentally different way.

Context time. If you’re focused on one goal, one project, one task – you’re intent on it. You’re tunnel visioned. You put your head down and trudge through the snow, wind and rain to eventually reach your finish line. You do things the way you’ve always done them and get the things you’ve always got. What then, did you miss along the way? Was there someone or something on the side of the road that might have made you divert, pivot, or evolve? Guess what? You’ll never know.

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An Open Letter to Cadillac


Dear Cadillac,

When I think of your brand, my mind gears straight to quality, class, status, and subtle, but universally known, elegance. In your most recent spot by Rogue though – those positive brand attributes fly out the window faster than unharnessed tissues soar out a convertible top. This materialistic spot is hyper targeted to, pardon my word choice, douche bags, and while it’s well shot, it’s practically a direct rip of Dollar Shave Club’s famed viral video of 2012 (#don’tdenyitwasabenchmark).

What I don’t understand is how this spot got approved. It opens with a probing question by a polished middle aged man asking, “Why do we work so hard? For this? For stuff?” For a minute, you expect him to go into a deep, meaningful, thought provoking answer – but then… you get just the opposite. It’s a throwback to the shallow marketing antics of yesteryear – when it’s pretty obvious market trends and how content resonates with consumers is moving away from just that. I get it. You’re selling a lifestyle, and a successful one at that, but it’s not 1950 and pardon the reality check, but the nouveau riche, Gucci clad suits you’re going for in this sixty second spot will probably be filing for chapter 11 in a decade. Sorry for the harsh words there guys, but I thought your brand was about lifelong brand advocacy, sustainable quality and subtle demonstration and even inspiration toward American success. Also – not a super classy move to air this ad complete with other-culture jabs during the Olympics…just sayin’.

“It’s not a manifesto,” David Caldwell, a spokesman for Cadillac explained. “It’s one person’s P.O.V. It’s a little bit of a rumination of why we work so hard … we’re building a brand.” Oh are you Cadillac? Up til now I thought you had done a pretty top notch job with that – but if this is what you stand for – over a classy demonstration of fiscal success – over the not overly ostentatious ownership of a status symbol – you may as well be Ed Hardy circa 2006 or Lamborghini circa, well – forever.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re still pals Caddy – we all have our misses – but let it be known that you could have achieved greater success with a few smart tweaks, thereby making this spot a more on-brand, classy demonstration of a similar concept – which really, if we untangle this knot, is selling the American dream in tangible automotive form.

Try again guys.

With respectful love,


Why Gap Deserves Some, But Not All of Its Recent Fanfare

 In the spirit of my thinking differently, I thought I’d write down a few mind flutters I’ve been having in light of the most recent Gap ad controversy.

In case you missed it, Gap recently launched a ‘Make Love’ campaign featuring Indian Sikh-American actor and fashion designer Waris Ahluwahlia. It’s a solid campaign complete with stunning visuals and simple messaging; and is tactically disseminated across a number of channels including out of home, print, and social, to my knowledge.

Arsalan Iftikhar, senior editor at The Islamic Monthly and founder of found a defiled version of this poster in Brooklyn. Vandals replaced the word ‘Love’ with ‘Bombs’ and added ‘Please stop driving taxis’ in what is without question an extremely racist and totally inappropriate act of intolerance.

Iftikhar’s response? He went straight to the web and posted an image of the ruined print ad to his 40,000+ Facebook and Twitter followers, imploring them to spread the word to create awareness on the topic.

So far so good right? Right. Here’s where I’ll stir the pot.

It took Gap less than 24 hours to contact Iftikhar directly. That means that it took whoever works on Gap’s social media team a near full day to catch wind of and decide how to respond to the massively viral conversation taking place about the brand and then, send one tweet to the source. Let it be known that this was indeed the right course of action for the social team to take, BUT I do not think Gap deserves accolades for their mediocre at best response time.

Iftikhar wrote, “In addition to Gap’s rocket-fast attempt to find out more details about the situation, I have to say that the best part about the company’s response to this social media campaign is that it currently has the Sikh model as their current Twitter background photo.”

Insert another red flag here.

Certainly this topic is controversial. Certainly the defilement was beyond wrong and certainly Gap’s response to find the location of and replace the defaced poster is amazing and deserves credit. That said, if we step back a minute and remove the controversy from the situation, a well-integrated campaign should indeed bridge the tra-digital (traditional-digital) line. It would be strategic, and I’ll go so far as to say expected, for them to incorporate their ‘Make Love’ campaign into their online look and feel. My question is, when did Gap change their Twitter cover photo and if it was after the Internet buzz took place, why wasn’t it on November 4th when they updated their Facebook photo?

Here’s the thing – I assume it was indeed done at the beginning of the month and as such, it should not be positioned as a fast response act of support. This part was simply a tactical extension of a well-integrated branding campaign.

All in all, was it a bold move for Gap to use a Sikh model in their most recent campaign? Some might say yes and regardless of whether or not it is, I give them props for taking a stand -even though it’s a stand that we shouldn’t need to take in this day and age. It’s pretty sad that here in 2013, the fact that this man appearing in an ad is still such a big deal. It reminds me of what became known as the “Biracial Cheerios commercial”, a title which I loathe by the way, that came out in May of this year. By now, I really would have thought things like this would finally be given the norm status they deserve.

Did Gap mean to make waves with their model choice? Maybe. If they did, it was a pretty drastic jump for them, from a brand perspective. Gap generally brings words like classic, traditional and even preppy to mind. They don’t push boundaries like other fashion brands, or even make societal visual metaphors like the United Colors of Benetton. They usually keep it pretty PC but in this case, took a stand. To close, I’d like to give credit where credit is due. Gap deserves accolades for putting out a campaign that inspires love of and for everyone, but from my marketing heart to yours, their reaction time and effort was what any brand should have done in any situation… and not just one laden with controversy.

As Posted on Advertising Week

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Rebuttal: Teens Don’t Matter, Ignore Them.

I recently read an Inc. article by Likeable Local’s CEO Dave Kerpen about how teens are leaving Facebook and what that means for your business. Generally I dig what Dave has to say but I think the time has come for me to put my metaphorical foot down.

First off, let it be known that teens are leaving Facebook. If you don’t know, now you know. It’s a fact and it’s one we expected. Teens are always looking for the next best thing and that thing, generally speaking, is some ‘thing’ your mom has no knowledge of.

Now that the shock has worn off, let’s move on.

In the meat of his post, Kerpen goes into where the teens are going if they are not in fact on the book of faces. His break down appears as follows:

  1. New Social Networks
  2. Mobile Photo Sharing Apps
  3. Erasable Media

Holy obvious bullet-points batman; allow me to translate:

  1. If they’re not here, they’re somewhere else that may or may not exist yet
  2. Practically every social network in existence
  3. Snapchat is cool and the $3 billion offer is #trending right now

Every marketer worth her tactics knows that the newest phone owning generation hops on the newest social network bandwagon, no matter its nature. Instagram at its launch was the spot, just like Facebook was before it. Dave goes out of his way to note, and I quote, “Do you want to spend your and your business’s precious time hanging out with teenagers where it’s cool, or hanging out where your customers are?” It seems to me that his recommendation is to ignore the massive potential and trend-settiness (yes I just made that word up) of our modern youth. I for one, think this is not only a massive missed opportunity, but also a very naive way of looking at overarching marketing as a whole.

Certainly I’m not saying that every brand needs to market on Instagram or God forbid Snapchat (if it was even possible), I am though, saying that no matter what brand you are, you need to at least be aware of the sway and infinite potential the younger generation has and what impact that might have on the future of your company. These young snapchatting sons of guns will eventually be your target market …and sooner than you may think.

Kids these days make stuff cool and we older folk follow suit. Facebook started the trend and now, a mere four years later, the 45-55 year olds are the fastest growing demo. Similarly, Instagram started with the tweens, kicked through the teens and now, I have to witness more baby pictures posted by grandparents than I ever expected. Gen- whatever they are now – latches onto brands they respect, brands that talk to them (not at them), brands who listen. If you as a business think about genuinelyconnecting with them – or at least thinking about them early, I really believe you’ll be set up for success moving into the future.

In sum, I’m sure Dave didn’t mean to totally discount the potential of our youth but it kind of came off that way. People need to step back and look at their marketing mix from a higher level, where social media is both a tactic and a means to an end. Does it make the amalgam of marketing wonderment more complex? Absolutely. But that’s the super tangled spider game we play. Play on marketers. Play on.

Read the post on Advertising Week

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What the Heck is an Instagram Video Share?

As posted on Advertising Week 

I came across an article recently that discussed the top shared brands on Instagram Video. Brands to earn this high acclaim include MTV, NBA, Peanuts and GoPro, to name a few.

My thoughts – great – but what the heck is an Instagram Video share?

As of this moment in time, users cannot seamlessly share videos from Instagram to any other social network. By that I mean, from mobile, which is where pretty much all Instagram videos views take place, you cannot click, tap or do anything to get that video from point A to point anywhere. So, I ask again – what the heck is an Instagram Video share? I have no choice but to assume it’s a copy and paste of a URL from Instagram WEB (not through the app, that’s not possible) to another social network which may include Twitter, Facebook, etc. Seems like a superfluous number of steps to take right? You must really want to share that video.. or rely on the brands themselves to do it so that you can share that aforementioned super sick video to your own networks. Then though, isn’t that <quote> Instagram Video </ end quote> simply a piece of content that is ironically optimized for a different social network than the one you’re sharing it to? It is. Trust me.

I then got to thinking about sharing in general and, when it comes to mass exposure of trending topics, my brain naturally took a stroll down hashtag lane. In case you still don’t get them, let me break it down for you. Hashtags are a super cool (#nerdmoment) way to consolidate a potentially world wide conversation by pairing a coined term or phrase with a symbol you used back in middle school to lock up your name with your jersey number. Mind you, this millennial trend has evolved, as all things do, to have a totally different role in social vernacular …but that’s for another post.

My point in bringing this all up is that in our forward thinking day and age, we have managed to not only miss, but whiff the mark when it comes to social integration and our perspective on it. We do not have an even-close-to-seamless way to look at the bigger picture when it comes to trending topic reach and content across the World Wide Web as it stands. Hashtags exist and are used universally on Twitter, Instagram and most recently Facebook but yet, there is no way to consolidate the analytics derived from those into one place. Not being able to share or #regram naturally from the Instagram mobile interface (be it video or image) may be intentional – and if it is I respect it – but calling out shared video links from Instagram web on other social networks just plain doesn’t make sense.

It seems to me that the social measurement space is suffering from a forest through the trees-esque syndrome. They’re looking forward through blinders as they frantically race to keep up with the tech centric joneses. The bottom line is that we don’t really know what we’re looking at or what any of it means.

So the question remains: What do we do about it?

My call to adventure is to look up and find a way to call a spade a social spade. Find a way, Internet world, to create a social map – a hashtag web if you will. That way we can at least have some idea of how far and by what vehicle our content travels. Then we can adjust our strategy accordingly. If not though, maybe we just accept the fact that quality content trumps. We should take advantage of the ready made tools in our tool belt, know that content is content first – and the way you alter it for different marketing channels, be they social or otherwise, is your intelligent attempt at catering content based on the audience you’re speaking to.

To bring this puppy back full circle, it makes zero sense focus on empty Instagram video shares. You are, quite literally, sharing content optimized for Instagram, which has a language and a user base entirely its own, to other, completely unique networks. It’s pretty much like going to a different country and assuming they’ll speak your language. That’s naive and lazy; come on son, you’re better than that. You should be focusing instead on the killer content you create and how to best disseminate that to the masses based on the mechanism through which you’re pushing it. Be better. Strategize harder. Market on.

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Adobe’s Adorable New Ad Out for Advertising Week

If you’re at Advertising Week 10, chances are, you’ll see the following spot for Adobe Marketing Cloud services. It is slated to run at nearly 70 seminars and events during #AWX, and is also set to air all week long on Bloomberg and CNBC. This reveal marks Adobe’s first TV buy in a decade and it cleverly points out that you, the client, really, have no idea what you’re looking at when it comes to data and decisions in marketing land. From campaign analytics to a media optimizer and more—Adobe services can help you dodge the metaphorical bullet of data misinterpretation and give you a better idea about who, exactly, is clicking on those banner ads of yours.


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